Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Vegan MoFo #8: Callaloo

As I've posted in the past, we love kale at my house. A lot. We also love Caribbean food, and are lucky enough to have a wonderful Jamaican restaurant, the One Love Cafe, within walking distance of my campus. One particular dish that sends us directly into blissful food orbit is callaloo, which is generally defined as a stew made from leafy greens, often including coconut milk. The thing itself, however, cannot be described in such prosaic terms, because it is about the most delicious thing in the world, combining sharpness, sweetness, spiciness and dark green earthiness in a way that makes you want to never, ever stop eating it. (Not ever.)

This past week, the very day after devouring a plate, I became possessed with the desire to replicate it at home; I already had a bunch of beautiful purple kale and a few cans of coconut milk on hand, so what the hell, right? Even if it didn't meet restaurant standards, I figured that the basic goodness of the ingredients would ensure that it would at least be edible. Accordingly, I did a Google search, which yielded an astonishing range of interpretations, the only common denominator being the presence of leafy greens. Not all of them used coconut, while some called for the addition of squash, or okra, or sweet potatoes, or even--GASP!--various fish and crustaceans. Ultimately, I conflated elements from a few of the more veg-friendly ones, then experimented pretty freely with the seasonings, quantities, etc. Fortunately, the results were delicious, and I'm glad I noted things down during the process, so that I'll be able to do it again!

~ 1 tbsp. olive oil
~ 1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
~ 1 cup chopped onions
~ 2 tbsp. minced garlic
~ 1 tsp.each: salt, thyme, curry powder
~ 1/2 tsp. each: cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice
~ Fresh black pepper
~ 2-3 tsp. hot sauce
~ 2 cups cooked, mashed squash, pumpkin or sweet potato
~ 2 cans coconut milk
~ 1 cube vegetarian bouillon, dissolved in the coconut milk
~ 6 cups chopped kale, spinach, collards, or any combination of dark, leafy greens

~ In a large pot, warm the oil over a medium heat.
~ Add the scallions, garlic, onions and seasonings; saute 5-10 minutes, until the onions are soft.
~ Add the mashed squash and coconut milk/bouillon mixture; raise the heat to high and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
~ Turn the heat to low and simmer for 5-10 minutes, until the sauce has thickened slightly.
~ Raise the heat back to medium, and begin adding the greens by handfuls, stirring well to make sure they are thoroughly coated. As each handful wilts, add another, until all the greens are swimming in sauce.
~ Cook a few minutes more, until the greens are soft and wilted but not yet turning to mush.
~ Remove from heat and serve with rice, couscous, mashed potatoes, jerk tofu, roasted veggies, or whatever else you like. For my part, I can happily eat a bowlful of this stuff all by itself!


  1. I'm gonna save this recipe so I can try it. It has a bunch of things I love.

  2. It really is good; sort of like creamed spinach, only better (and who doesn't love creamed spinach?)!